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As far as rock bands go, they don’t really come any more profit-oriented than KISS.

It’s decades now since the New York glam pioneers cottoned onto the idea, first articulated by the Rolling Stones, that nostalgia is the true money pit, that unabashedly playing the hits year-on-year to the same audience is a far more profitable well than the whole “recording new music” deal. In the last decade, the KISS and the Stones have released no fewer than two full albums between them, suggesting recorded music may not be a priority for them.

Which makes it all the more unusual that Gene Simmons, The Demon himself, continually manages to get himself caught up in disputes with illegal downloaders. Granted, he has a lot of albums in the can, but very few of them are actually sold in record stores, and it’s difficult to imagine the torrent sites buzzing with excitement over the latest 320kbps rip of Hot in the Shade or Revenge. You’d feel he might be better off leaving the record sales to the people who make records and stick to the pursuit of the midlife crisis dolla.

This week, though, he’s managed to outdo himself. Not only has he continued to voice his support for suing illegal filesharers (an approach even the RIAA has abandoned), he’s threatened to sue Anonymous – yes, the online community of teenage bigots and paedophiles – and have it/them jailed for launching a brute force Denial of Service attack on…

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Calabasas, California rockers Incubus have been performing a new track, entitled ‘Surface To Air,’ on recent tour dates in South America.

This splendidly clear video footage was shot at the Santiago stop (that’s in Chile, for the benefit of all of you living in that space between Mexico and Canada) on October 8.

The band are currently working on their seventh album, their first since 2006’s Light Grenades, which is planned for release some time next year.

Thanks to user DoubtGin for the tip.

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Joyce Carol Oates’s Wild Nights! is a book of five short stories chronicling fictionalized accounts of the last days of Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and Mark Twain.  It is an impressive collection for a number of reasons:  firstly and most obviously, it further cements the fact that Oates can do whatever she wants with a pen and make it work; secondly, she structures each of the stories quite convincingly after the subject’s writing style; thirdly, corollary to the second reason, is that she accomplishes these things without “stealing” from the authors.  That is, she does not fill the stories with direct quotes or passages from their books; rather, she implements themes, imagery, phrasing styles, and even punctuation styles that were unique to those writers and makes them her own.  It speaks to her skill as a writer but more than that, it speaks to her skill as a reader, as someone who takes in words with encyclopedic skill and is able to run them through her mind and produce something wholly different and unique.  From this idea, I’ve attempted to do something similar based on both the writing styles of a few lyricists I like and how I think they would be in real life, if that makes any sense.  While these will not be, in a strict sense, about music – they will not cheaply contain song titles or lyrical passages – they are my attempts to better understand some of the people I

Last month, Villager-in-chief Conor O’Brien dropped by the Sun newspaper offices (for some reason) and recorded a cover of ‘Tightrope,’ the lead single from bequiffed soul sensation Janelle Monae’s excellent debut album The Archandroid (Suites II and III).

There are no ultra-choreographed dance moves that we can see or hear, unfortunately, but Conor’s simple acoustic guitar arrangement puts a whole new sinister spin on Monae’s vivacious dance number.

Villagers – ‘Tightrope’ (Janelle Monae cover)

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Photo by Lucy Bridger

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To celebrate Jónsi’s (Sigur Ros) forthcoming tour of the United States, we’ve teamed up with the Icelandic musician’s label XL Recordings to bring you an exciting competition.

Jónsi and Alex, his boyfriend and collaborator in Riceboy Sleeps, have put together a mix CD containing 13 of their favourite songs, including tracks by Billie Holiday,  Django Reinhardt and Audrey Hepburn, and we’ve got 5 hard copies to give away, complete with custom-designed artwork. Jónsi and Alex designed the sleeve themselves, drawing on themes of childhood and innocence.

Before heading off on tour, Jónsi dropped into the NPR studios to record a segment for the network’s All Things Considered program, which can be listened to here.

To be in with a chance of winning, just send your full name, address (within the United States and Canada) and the name of your favourite Jónsi song to sputnikreviews@gmail.com with the title “Jónsi & Alex contest”.

Closing date: Thursday, October 21, 11:59 EST


1. ‘The Celebrated Polish Carillon using only the upper three keys of the piano’ – Natalia Janotha
2. ‘Ave Maria’ – Alessandro Moreschi
3. ‘Voggubarnsins Mal’- Smarakvarttinn A Akureyr
4. ‘Mother’s Last Word To Her Son’ – Washington Phillips
5. ‘Donx Sourire’ – Django Reinhardt
6. ‘The Gypsie Laddie’ – John Jacob Niles
7. ‘I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me’ – Billie Holiday
8. ‘Parlez-Moi D’Amour’ – Lucienne Boye
9. ‘Marche Funebre’ – Raoul

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The Justin Bieber story took its inevitable step into hip hop last month with Kanye West’s remix of ‘Runaway Love,’ but it took a leap into the ultra-surreal earlier today when he premiered ‘Speaking in Tongues,’ the first glimpse of his rapping alter-ego Shawty Mane.

It’s entirely unclear whether this is a genuine musical statement or a pop culture spoof the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since Orson Welles dropped the radio broadcast of his namesake H.G.’s War of the Worlds in1938, but it certainly is… something.

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Credit for this one goes to ATM on the hip hop forum.

Mere mortals like myself tend to be mesmerised by beatboxers at the best of times, but Los Angeles rapper Red takes it to a whole ‘nother level. This video, filmed when Red was homeless on the streets of LA, shows him in full G-Funk mode, mixing chest percussion, throat bass and insane natural vocoder action in what already ranks as one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

There’s a hint of a commercial tie-in as Red wears a “Just Do It” shirt while dropping rhymes about Nike, but it could as easily be coincidence. The numerous references to Warren G, G-Funk Records and Snoop Dogg, not so much so. Sit back and prepare to just… wow.

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James Blake is unstoppable. It’s gone beyond the point where everything he touches turns to gold… the man invents new elements to turn things into in the first place. Including this: a cover of Feist’s The Limit To Your Love, set to be the first single of his upcoming EP (yes, another one) and hot off the heels of the dazzling Klavierwerke EP. By now, he’s so far from his roots in dubstep that’s it’s only just perceptible in the deep sub bass horizon that takes this song – vocals and all – to a level I didn’t even know existed.

Directed by Martin de Thurah

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Shakira’s decision to cover the xx’s ‘Islands’ (originally retitled ‘Explore,’ now re-retitled ‘Islands’ again) isn’t exactly a huge shock, having been signposted in the summer with strategically leaked samples and a televised live cover at Glastonbury.

It is rather good, however.

Shakira’s cover is faster and less intimate than the original, laying a thumping club beat below the tropical guitar riff, but it does somehow manage to work.

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So this is from 2007, and I may be completely late on this, but I’m just going to leave this here.

Zola Jesus is Nika Roza Danilova, a classically trained vocalist and Julliard reject by the age of 10. With this re-recording of the massive “Sea Talk”, which features on the Valusia EP released just today, she continues her proclivity for creating huge, swelling pop songs with a gothic synth twist.

Zola Jesus – Sea Talk by souterraintransmissions

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Not a lot of people know this, but back before she was Lady Gaga Stefani Germanotta actually looked fairly normal.

Here’s Stefani aged 15 guesting on an episode from season 3 of the Sopranos.

“Natural Born Farmer” Vinyl

Before detailing the show itself, there is a intricately webbed story behind the recent movement of Glassjaw (most of the following details are with great help of the www.glassjaw.net message board).  Back on August 8th, 2010, Glassjaw released the “All Good Junkies Go To Heaven” single and played a coordinating show in the United Kingdom.  Soon after, Glassjaw secretly played a small Long Island venue (Vibe Lounge) on September 9th, 2010 that aligned with the “Jesus Glue” vinyl release date.  Like the 9/9/10 date, Sons Modern put together a show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey on October 10th, the same date that the “Natural Born Farmer” single dropped.  Keeping a consistent pattern, this show was named “Sons Modern Family Gathering feat. Tidal Arms/Happy Body Slow Brain and very special guest.”  Once again, this led to mass speculation, specifically that Glassjaw would be playing the bill.  Now, the previous three singles were labeled with the numbers 88, 89, and 90 respectively, and a short history lesson allows you to know that Glassjaw have attached themselves to the year 1993, the year the band formed (and a number they are likely counting up to).  Putting the pieces together, the writing is on the wall of what is to come.  On 11/11/10 and 12/12/10 there will be two more singles and at least two more shows, filling up 91 and 92 in their catalog.  However, when Glassjaw play January 1st,

Weezer laughed off an offer of $10 million to break up, but would it really cost that much?

It helped that it was a slow week, but there was an unusual amount of press attention last Wednesday when Seattle man James Burns boldly offered rock band Weezer $10 million to stop making music.

The concept of paying musicians to retire isn’t exactly a new one, but in this case it reflected a real long-held view among part of the band’s fanbase that, well, maybe retirement wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. Having spent much of the ’90s and early ’00s as a solid ‘album every two or three years’ band, Weezer have released four in the past five years and the dramatic slide in quality has been noticed by all but the most easily-amused fan.

Whether the petition was intended as a joke or a genuine expression of frustration – more than likely both – the band were quick to laugh it off, with drummer Patrick Wilson joking that “if they can make it 20, we’ll do the ‘deluxe breakup’!” Frontman Rivers Cuomo rather missed the point entirely, reassuring fans that “no petition and no amount of money will stop us from being together!” In any case, spoilsport Burns has since shut the petition down.

It’s a pity – it would have been nice if Weezer had at least have pretended to entertain the offer…

Halloween is coming up in a matter of weeks (one of only 11 Irish festivals, so enjoy it while you can!)

This year, Insane Clown Posse – Michigan’s scariest, most grotesque rap duo since Kid Rock and Joe C. – have decided to mark the occasion with a brand new song entitled ‘This Halloween is Crazy.’ Well it certainly is that.

You thought rainbows were insane? Just you wait for this Halloween – it’s crazy. Magnets… confusing? Wait until it starts raining pumpkins up in this bitch. Spooky, spooky! A witch smacks into a tree? BOOM! Welcome to Detroit, bitch.

Insane Clown Posse – ‘This Halloween Is Crazy’

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